Entertainment Journal, Entry #2
Read a "nail biting ... edge of your seat drama and romantic suspense" novel (so announces that the blurb on the back cover): Murder List by Julie Garwood. Pure, unadulterated mind candy. By reading it, I probably shaved a good 10 pts off my IQ. But sometimes I just have to indulge ... and remember why I can't stomach romance novels anymore. I used to read them by the bushel. Mom and I would trade them back and forth while I was in high school and college; they were a way she and I could share something even though we weren't speaking to one another. And the books were a needed escape, a pleasant little bit of fantasy that I could gobble up between richer meals of Nabakov, Ellison, Eliot etalia (all male authors, btw, assigned by professors, usually male, in my literature courses). Now I wonder what it means that my mother and I both yearned for the same type of escape. She so tall and movie star gorgeous with the big house and fairy tale life style. I at 17 short, over weight with acne, hair that wouldn’t take a curl, and a lazy eye. But of course, hers wasn't a fairy tale life as my parents divorce proved much later, and I grew out of acne and learned to embrace the joys of straight hair.
Back to the novel:
The plot: a beautiful hotel heiress, Regan Madison (two presidents' names, get it? So a blend of Hollywood, ultra conservativism, and... I don't know squat about Madison other than his wife was named Dolly and she invented strawberry ice cream for his inaugural ball. I'll have to look him up to figure out how that plays into it) is stalked by a vengeful psychopath who calls himself "the Demon." Alec Buchanan, the drop dead gorgeous excellent detective turned FBI recruit is assigned to the case as Regan's bodyguard. Surprise: there’s lots of sexual tension as Regan resists being protected by her hunky overprotective man. Very Whitney Houston and Kevin Costner. There's the obligatory build up to the final culmination/copulation scene which is immediately followed by the cops arresting the wrong guy and Alec leaves the case (Alec of course thinks they don’t have the right guy because he’s supercop and therefore destined for the FBI. Really negative toward local law enforcement). Meanwhile, Regan is trapped by the bad guy who has her running through the woods like a scared rabbit. She has to use her brains to escape b/c she clearly cannot outmatch him physically (did I mention the "Demon" is obsessed with body building?). She, of course, outwits the lumbering menacing ox by dropping down out of tree onto his head like an over ripe coconut and just in the nick of time, too, as the Demon is preparing to blow off Alec's too perfect head (Alec, of course, realizes after he leaves Regan that he LOVES her and MUST HAVE HER and he also suspects the bad guy is still on the loose--hence why he is an excellent cop). Alec and Regan get engaged and he makes an honest woman of her. The end.
What does it all mean:
"woman" is made to mean: tall and leggy, naturally passive to the point of ridiculousness. In fact, until she rolls around in the sack with Alec, she's Jane Doormat. Suddenly, afterward, she has the needed testosterone to stick up for herself. She also has the requisite great body. Men ogle her but of course she also is incredibly humble so she doesn’t notice=> the ideal woman is a sex object and doesn’t mind being stripped by men’s invasive gazes because she is so incredibly naïve and out of touch that she never notices. If she noticed, she would have to either play up to it (her sexual power that is) and be a “tramp,” be intimidated and timid, or get pissed off (which is the reaction I would prefer but I know that from my own personal history, I would be intimidated and try to become invisible). Regan, however, has the good grace to never notice and therefore she is neither self-conscious nor pissed off. How convenient for the men in the book who are represented as hypersexual to the point of not being able to think straight when around Regan b/c of the sexual fantasies she inspires. Ridiculous and yuck. She is also very rich and very white. Super nurturing, NEVER raises her voice, incredibly repressed emotionally (Alec also helps with this.), a do-gooder (she's the company conscience), innately naive and childish. She cries A LOT. Very emotional. It's supposed to be one of her endearing qualities. Also a bum knee (which makes it impossible for her to physically out run or match her attacker). So the ideal woman is all of the above plus physically frail but wily.
"Man" is made to mean: hero or villain
Hero: ideal, strong, emotionally and physically, rescuer, analytical, stoic, out of touch with own emotions until almost too late, overprotective, jealous but self-conscious about it, sensitive, a g-man rather than a cop, super smart, sloppy dresser and not concerned with fashion but cleans up nicely when necessary, very independentç not under a woman’s control
Villain: obsessed with his own body so incredibly strong physically but a weak mind and psychologically deranged, controlled by an evil woman (in the novel the Demon is the husband of car accident victim, Nina, who we find out in the last chapters is the real Demon behind the scenes controlling everything.
So woman is also made to mean “Demon”: the old Angel/Monster duality. Priceless. Women are fair and foul, and the foul one control the weak men who then are employed to do her dirty work. Gag. AND the fair women are dangerous because they so distract men from their Very Important Business. The only way to neutralize these obvious threats to civilization and society is to 1) murder the foul and 2) marry the fair. In either case, the woman is rendered completely under control.
While in Idaho, I’ve been waking up at 5 a.m. and watching the morning news. Always female anchors. The national news coverage starts at 5 a.m. on the weekends which means that if I grew up here I would never have seen CBS’s Sunday Morning program b/c I’m generally still asleep at o’dark thirty. In any case, here are my notes on this weekend’s local (as in ID) news morning programs:
“Woman” is made to mean
· early—really really early
· white (no other ethnicity represented on the major channels, and not even on the cable networks like CNN and Fox)
· rich (lots of gold and sparkly baubles, manicured hands, luxurious fabrics and tailored suits, and blonde—lots of blonde hair
· 40 something—which is refreshing because women are usually really young if they are on tv. Good to see some crows feet
· Authoritative but also compassionate and nurturing. Women reporters covered the personal interest stories, especially the impact of hurricane Wilma and local personal interest stuff (a house fire, for example). Interestingly male reporters covered the weather/meteorology (science… suggesting men do science, women do compassion), the war in Iraq (but if irt’s a story on the families of soldiers, a woman covered it), and movie reviews. I don’t know what to make of that.
“Man” is made to mean
· Interested or expert in science, war, and analysis of film.
“Race”/ethnicity is made to mean
· Anglo-European No diversity in race of news reporters. The people in the stories were often non-Anglo European suggesting the victims and perpetrators of crime are non-white which is statistically disproportionate.
· Only coverage had to do with terrorism, Al-Quaeda, and Islamic fundamentalism suggesting that Islam is an aberrant or dangerous religion